The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment has said funding for the provision of a fish pass on the River Blackwater in Fermoy is a ‘entirely a matter’ for Cork County Council.

The Avondhu reported last week that a permanent fish pass solution beside the Thomas Kent Bridge would cost approximately €2 million.

In a recent parliamentary question, Cork East TD Kevin O’Keeffe called the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment to clarify their position regarding the provision of funding for the fish pass in Fermoy which is required to protect migrating salmon.

“The current fish path has been destroyed and the current weir needs to be capped and protective boulders put in place to prevent it being further damaged from debris being swept down river. Unless this work is urgently put in place salmon stock will not be able to migrate upriver and will perish. Cork County Council are seeking funding of €2m,” Deputy O’Keeffe said.

In response, Minister Denis Naughten said Cork County Council is the authority responsible for carrying out works to the weir and for the funding of such projects. He said he was aware that both a project to ensure a permanent solution to the fish passage issue and a project to ensure temporary repairs, while the permanent solution is awaited, are required.

Minister said his Department and Inland Fisheries Ireland have been liaising with Cork County Council to advise how any proposed works can be consistent with fisheries and environmental obligations, particularly the EU Habitats Directive. The engineering advisors of the Council and the Department have also agreed the essential details of the permanent proposals. Also, the Department has agreed to the Council’s temporary repair proposals, he said.

“Most recently, the Council has advised my Department that it is involved in land acquisition in respect of its permanent project proposals and, once this is complete, have undertaken to set out a timetable for the commencement and completion of works.

“The Council has also advised the estimated project costs to my Department. Funding is entirely a matter for the Council, and funds for this and similar projects are not provided for within my Department’s vote.

“The Council has been advised that my Department is open to assist and advise from a fisheries and environmental perspective should the Council wish to make a case for a central funding provision to service the requirement for a permanent solution,” said Minister Naughten.